Nebraska state Sen. Steve Lathrop (D) won't run for the U.S. Senate, he announced Monday morning.

"I appreciate the encouragement I have received over the past several weeks from Nebraskans throughout the state. I gave this decision serious thought and based it on discussions with my family and on how I can best serve the people of Nebraska," said Lathrop in a statement. "After much consideration, I have decided to continue to focus on finding solutions to the problems facing our state such as: balanced tax relief, child welfare reform, protecting our most vulnerable citizens, and job creation."

Democrats have scrambled to find a candidate to run for the seat since Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced his retirement. They hoped to recruit former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) into the race, but he announced last week that he wouldn't run.

The only serious Democrat in the race is University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook, who is expected to officially announce his campaign on Tuesday. He faces a steep uphill race against the eventual winner of the GOP primary in the heavily Republican state.